Empty Nest: Learning to Let Go Gracefully​

You've raised a college-bound child! You should be bursting with pride, joy and excitement! While all of those emotions are perfectly normal and expected, we also understand that you might also be bursting with fear, anxiety and worry.

Even if you've read about all the right things to do and say as you and your child enter this new journey together it might still be very scary. You've prepared them for this day for the last 18-years by raising them to be independent and encouraging their achievements, but come move-in day, all that will be left after unpacking the boxes is to say goodbye.

If you're finding it hard to let go, please know that this feeling won't last forever. Until then, here are a few thoughts on how to cope.

Have a good cry

Really, It's OK. Your child is beginning one of the most important journey's of their life and you helped them get there. Be proud, but also allow yourself to release those sad tears as well. Remember when you sent your child off for their first day of kindergarten? There were likely tears then as well, but you made it through. While this is much bigger than kindergarten and you won't be welcoming them home off the bus this time, you'll still only be a phone call or text away.

Embrace technology

These days sending your child off to college doesn't have to mean not seeing them again until holiday break. Video chat is a great way to stay connected with your child whether Findlay is hundreds of miles away from home or the next town over. Talk to your child about their preference. If you can plan to check in with each other once each week via video chat then that could become a great way for you to still feel connected with your child. If video chat isn't your or their thing, then planned text messages or good ole fashioned phone calls work just as well. It's about trying to plan time into your week and their week to reconnect. However, don't feel discouraged if your child doesn't stick to the schedule. Instead, offer alternative days or times that might work better with their school/work/social schedule.

Plan visits

Whether you're visiting them here or they're visiting you at home, there are always ways to make it happen. Majority of our students return home on all major holidays, but sometimes it's fun to plan a sporadic trip when possible. While it might seem like a great idea to plan a "surprise" trip to campus to visit your child, this could backfire. During your child's first year they're likely beginning to feel more independent, but could also still feel very homesick. Planning your trip to campus with your child will give them time to clear their schedule and prepare for your visit. Family & Homecoming Weekend is a great time to visit campus!

Connect with other college parents

This can be the parents of your child's roommate or a local or online support group. Being able to discuss your feelings with and get advice from others sharing your same journey can be cathartic. Who knows, just like your child, you might even make new lifelong friends yourself!

Don't worry if your child moves on faster or slower

Each child/student is different in the way they respond to college-life. Your child may reach milestones faster or more slowly than you would have expected. It's not personal. Instead, focus on helping your child succeed rather than directing their path.

Send them a care package

This is likely your child's first time out on their own, which is a serious adjustment for everyone in the family. Your child might be feeling homesick, stressed, anxious or all of the above. An easy way to let your child know you're thinking about them is to send a care package of their favorite things. Whether you send a box of all of their favorite things, necessary hygiene products that they might forget or don't have time to buy, or simply a box of sweet treats, it will remind them that you're still there for them. Add a warm hand-written note to the package for bonus points.

Don't have time to pack something up? Let us help! Flavours by Sodexo at the University of Findlay offers a variety of different baked goods and other treats to help put a smile on your student's face. All of our packages are prepared by our very own team of experienced bakers and chefs. Order conveniently through Sodexo online and then Dining Services will call and email your student when they have a surprise. You can even send them a birthday cake! Learn more about Sodexo's "Surprise Someone."  

Know it gets easier with time

Just like any other major life transition, seeing your child off to college feels odd at first. It will affect your usual routines and you'll miss seeing them around. This is all normal. As you adjust to your new season of parenting, the anxiety, sadness and stress should all fade away. You'll find that watching your child transform into an adult and make their way in the world is truly a marvelous thing to see. This is a new life for both of you, but still a journey you will always get to take together.